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Where the river flows through silent veils

In the sheltered forest her spirits rise

 

On hidden waters and forgotten trails

Beneath the shade of sacred skies

 

In the silence we heed her hails

For ancient wisdom in peaceful guise

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“You’ve been writing the same bit for the past ten years.  Let it go. It’s time to move on.”

It was always on her mind but until now the words themselves never found the light of day.  From where her spontaneous voice arose that day was anyone’s guess.

He knew it as well, but didn’t like hearing it.  Who would?

“I’m going out for a walk.”

“You’ve been out twice already.”

“Third’s a charm.”

And on that pithy note he hastened his exit.  A more honest person might have described it as a jailbreak but what were the odds of meeting an honest person these days?

All cynicism aside, the fresh air did offer a break of sorts.  No need to be consumed by it all day long.  After all, there had to be better ways to spend one’s time, despite living in the age when even ‘time’ was reduced to a commodity.

Nietzsche’s heady conceit that “all truly great thoughts are conceived while walking” entered his mind.  And then abruptly left.

But like all unfinished business, his pride wouldn’t yet allow him to surrender.

“What is the answer?” he said aloud.  The bit was either too long or too short, too hot or too cold, too serious or too silly.

Well, enough was enough.

Scolding himself, he finally admitted the obvious.  As the old joke went, if his bit were made of cloth, he wouldn’t even use it as a shmata.

As usual his stealthy return was betrayed by that squeak in the door he always threatened to fix but never did.

“So, what do you say now mister?” she gibed with a smile.

“You’re right.  It’s time to move on.  From now on I’m banishing the bit from the workshop.”

“Good for you, you’ll feel better, I know you will.”

And with that, to his surprise, he suddenly remembered the feeling of possibilities, of new possibilities, hands clasped behind his back, fingers crossed.

 

While surely not as significant as the topical issue of royal ascent, in the ongoing spirit of consciousness raising I think it’s worth renewing our attention to what Chomsky describes as “two huge shadows that ought to be on everyone’s mind”.

He speaks of course of nuclear and environmental crisis, two ways in which for the first time in our history the species may curtail the possibilities for future survival.  The extent to which we can do anything about these issues depends first on understanding that they do, in fact, exist.

And, oh wait.  I’m sorry, the royals are about to reveal the future king.  This must be more important…

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“Why are you bothering to learn guitar?  It’s such a passe and silly waste of time.  I mean, you’ll never get any good at it.”

What an obtuse statement.  It was all he could do to contain the disappointment.  It’s surprising, he thought, what people you call friend can sometimes say.

Only a few minutes into practice, he put the guitar down in frustration thinking about the question ‘why bother’.  Why bother doing anything creative?

“Let me ask you a question.  Do you remember what Aristotle said about language?”

“Vaguely.”

“He said language is sound with a meaning.  What do you make of that?”

“That makes sense.”

“It seems about right to me too, until you really think it through.  Now ask yourself, which came first, the sound or the meaning?”

“Well, I guess you’d have to first create the meaning before you create the meaningful sound.”

“I think you’re right.  It’s what goes on inside the mind first that’s the prime mover behind our creative efforts.  So it may turn out that Aristotle, in a sense, had it backwards.  Language is actually meaning with occasional sound.”

“What’s you’re point?”

“I’m answering you’re question.  Our language or higher intelligence, or our ‘third eye’, however you want to describe it, is geared towards the imaginative.  Writers, philosophers, photographers, particle physicists, Lascaux cave painters and yes, amateur guitarists all do what our brains are designed to do:  To liberate our most inspired thoughts.  And if you’re willing to be serious, the world needs more cave artists and particle physicists.  The more the better. People should be free to create in whatever way suits their talents because it’s the essential and inextricable part of being human.”

His friend sat there and deliberated, quietly.  It was a risky quiet.  He knew from experience that friendships, like Italian cruise ships, sometimes suddenly and unexpectedly run aground.

But then the jury of one calmly stood up, walked to the kitchen and grabbed two beers, cold enough.  On his way back, he picked up the guitar.

“Will you teach me how to play this thing, please?”

 

 

Crashing waves and salty air along the Atlantic Ocean, Lawrencetown Beach, N.S.

 

Sunset over a dusky Lake Banook, Dartmouth N.S.

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